Darjeeling is one of the highest tea-growing regions in the world.
A British civil servant named Dr. Campbell started the growth of tea in this region in 1841. He got seeds of Chinese variety and planted it around his bungalow. The trees grew very big, some up to 6 metres, establishing the fact that Darjeeling was ideal for tea production.
The variety grown in Darjeeling is Camelia Sinensis VAR Sinensis, a Chinese variety in majority. Various Assam hybrid jats and Chinese/Assam hybrid jats can also be grown here. The elevation, the Chinese variety and the Indian terroir imparts distinct flavour constituent not present in any other teas.
Why you should drink more Darjeeling
Darjeeling teas are the champagne of teas with distinct, muscatel character.
First Flush are among the worlds most prized teas qualitatively. They have mixed oxidation, greenish-brown leaves, delicate and mild flavour and are a bit astringent.
Second flush teas are fuller bodied, rounder, less astringent and muscatel with presence of fair number of tips. These teas exhibit the true muscatel character.
The teas have a flavour profile of French grapes and Himalayan mountain air. They have musky, sweet tasting notes similar to Muscat wine, and can have a delicate fruity and citrus flavour.
Darjeeling has uniqueness due to Chinese tea variety mixing with Indian terroir. The astringency and balance of flavour and muscatel character is not found in any other teas.
These teas are a game changer- bright in both taste and colour while being sweet, astringent and fragrant in equal turns.
My recommendation will be to start by trying out the first flush teas and then moving on to second flush and Autumn flush.
First flush will reveal mild, delicate flavours including taste of clean mountain top air. Second flush will give you a wine-like flavour, and Autumn flush will give you caramel notes.
The nuance of difference marks the Darjeeling teas. From delicate fruity and citrus flavours to muscatel wine-like flavour, you experience a wide variety of qualitative character. This is not present in any other teas, making Darjeeling teas unique, highly prized and much in demand.